Felton man guilty of leaving scene of hit and run

DOVER — With extensive damage evident through a shattered front windshield, a 36-year-old Felton man was legally obligated to stop and check on what collided with his vehicle as it traveled along Willow Grove Road the night of Sept. 6, 2017, according to a Superior Court ruling Friday morning.

Additionally, the court pointed to Nathan W. Jester Jr.’s failure to call police after learning through a news release that a pedestrian – later identified as 35-year-old Roger L. Coberly Jr. – had been killed on the same Felton area road at about the same time he was in the vicinity.

The driver did not call 911 or attempt to render required medical assistance or wait at the scene until medical personnel arrived, the judge noted.

Nathan W. Jester Jr.

Thus, Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. found Jester guilty of felony leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death and a violation of failure to report a collision resulting in death or injury, The defendant faces six months (mandatory minimum) to a year in prison plus fines when sentenced on Sept. 26.

The pronouncement came during a 10-minute session that followed a two-day bench trial on Monday and Tuesday. Jester waived a jury trial.

While defense attorney Andre’ Beauregard requested immediate sentencing, the judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation due to “a little bit of a criminal record that was not insubstantial.” A $10,000 cash bond was set.

Outside the second floor Kent County Courthouse courtroom, Mr. Coberly’s wife responded to the verdict with “All I want to stay is nobody wins in this. Neither family. That’s all.”

Mr. Beauregard commented that “No one wins. It is a true tragedy.”

Citing pending sentencing prosecuting Deputy Attorneys General Kathleen Dickerson and Kevin Smith declined comment.

Jester maintained that he initially believed he struck a deer while driving a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and later began to have his doubts as more information became available.

Mr. Coberly, a self-employed construction worker, died while walking his dog on the wrong side of a country road with no lights at approximately 9:07 p.m., according to trial testimony and police reports. While the defense claimed the conditions included a very cloudy night with a storm brewing, Coberly’s family described a moonlight night that was brighter than usual.

The prosecution argued that while fault was not determined by police in the incident, the defendant acted improperly after the collision.

Jester maintained he had earlier hit a deer on a nearby road the night of the incident, and struck another deer roughly three months prior.

Mr. Coberly was pronounced dead at the scene by arriving Kent County paramedics. His wife testified to finding him lying face down in a ditch after hearing a loud “boom” outside their home, calling 911 and followed an operator’s instructions to administer chest compressions in a frantic, futile attempt to revive him before medical first responders arrived. The call was played as evidence during the trial’s first day.

After collecting evidence at the scene and receiving a tip through Delaware Crime Stoppers about a vehicle seen with heavy front end damage, Delaware State Police arrested Mr. Jester at his home on Cedar Grove Church Road the day after the incident, according to the prosecution and police reports.

Besides his wife, Mr. Coberly was survived by three children of the home.

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